Class 2A golf doesn’t have fall regional or conference tournaments, but the Lovell Bulldogs tuned up for this week’s state tournament with a small, three-team tournament in Thermopolis last Friday and Saturday.
Coach Devon Parks said he was pleased to see his young team continue to improve, although they finished 32 shots behind the host Thermopolis Bobcats.
“All of them are improving a lot,” Parks said. “It’s exciting to see.”
Parks seemed most pleased with sophomore CJ Murphey, who broke into the 80s in a round for the first time in his career.
“He had done it in practice in Lovell, but never in a tournament,” Parks said. “He’s right where we need him. We’ve been waiting for that.”
Murphey shot very well on Friday, shooting 43-43=86, and he shot 44 on the first go-round Saturday before fading to a 50 on the second nine for a 94 on day two, giving him a final score of 180, good for seventh place.
“If he could do that again (an 86), it would definitely help (this weekend),” he said. “I think he can.”
Lovell’s top finisher at the Bobcat Invitational was junior Chase Tippetts, who placed third with a score of 166, just one shot behind second place. Tippetts shot 42-41=83 on Friday and 41-42=83 Saturday for his 166.
“He’s consistently down there (in his scoring),” Parks said. “At the beginning of the fall he was rollercoasting around. In practice he put two rounds together that would be in the 70s. I hope he can replicate that this weekend.”
Also strong for the Bulldogs was fellow junior Brandon Wolvington, who shot 45-40=85 Friday and 42-42=84 Saturday to place fourth with a score of 169.
“He’s kind of doing the same stuff Chase is doing,” Parks said. “He’s being more consistent, not up and down.”
Lovell’s number four golfer, sophomore McKay Baxendale, shot under 100 in a tournament for the first time, Parks said, with a round of 44-53=97 on Friday. He shot 56-50=106 Saturday for a final score of 203.
“He struggled on day two, but day one showed what he can do,” Parks said. “It’s really important that he saw what he could do.”
Freshman Hunter Tippetts continued his steady improvement, continuing his season-long trend of shooting better in each day of competition throughout the fall. He shot 50-50=100 Friday and 48-48=96 Saturday for a 196, placing 10th.
“This whole season he hasn’t shot worse than the day before,” Parks said. “He had never been below 110, and he went straight to 100.”
Three junior varsity boys wrapped up their season with JV competition in Thermop. Freshman Dillon Schneider shot rounds of 117 and 111 for a score of 228, sophomore Justin Mickelson shot 117-125=242 and sophomore Sloan Colvin shot 142-129=271.
Girls also improve
There were only three girls golfing in Thermop, and Lovell sophomore Cassie Colvin took first place with a score of 223, shooting 56-57=113 on Friday and improving to 57-53=110 Saturday.
“She shaved another 10 strokes off of her best, and both days were low,” Parks said. “She’s showing consistency because she’s understanding what she needs to do.
“Her attitude for the game is where I want everybody to be at.”
Placing second was Lovell junior Journee Burton, who shot 56-53=109 Friday and 59-60=119 Saturday for a final score of 228.
State golf tourney
Lovell will host the Class 2A State Golf Tournament this weekend at Foster Gulch. Action begins at 9:30 a.m. both Friday and Saturday.
Teams expected to attend include host Lovell, Thermopolis, Kemmerer, Saratoga, Midwest, Lusk, Big Horn, Tongue River, Moorcroft, Sundance-Hulett, Wright and Upton.
Parks said golf parents and the Bulldog Booster Club will serve breakfast each morning before play begins for golfers and coaches, and he said there will be a fun long-drive and long-putt contest following Friday’s round. Winners will receive a gift certificate for a free state golf T-shirt.
“I feel we have a chance (to win) this week,” Parks said. “It’s our home course. It will be close, though. We haven’t beaten Thermopolis all year, but since it’s on our home course we have a chance to be right there with them.
“Thermop’s the team to beat. If every one (of the Lovell golfers) can match his personal best both days, I think we can get it.”
Members of the public are invited to watch the tournament this weekend. According to guidelines announced by Lovell Athletic Director Joe Koritnik, there will be an area around the Foster Gulch clubhouse flagged for spectators.
Spectators will be able to easily see the Number One tee box, the Number Three green and, from a distance, the Number Four tee box from the clubhouse. Spectators may also walk along Lane 13 and see the Number Five green, the Number Six tee box and the Number Nine green. Spectators must stay on the road and behind the fence that surrounds the golf course.
Lane 13 will not be closed, but signs and flags will warn drivers that they need to slow down. The Big Horn County Sheriff’s Dept. will also patrol the area.
By David Peck